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Published: August 7th 2007
When you think of Ireland, you picture rolling green hills, stone walls, etc. Basically what you picture is Inis Mor. I arrived on the island (the largest of the three islands that make up the Aran Islands, and also the most popular) on Thursday with three of my friends at about 11:30am. The sun was shining, it was warm (hot even) and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was basically perfect. After unloading our stuff at our hostel we decided it would be best to rent bikes (seeing as the island is only 9 miles by 2 miles) as opposed to taking one of the very cute (yet rather pricy) horse drawn carriages, or one of the numerous ‘tour buses’ (which cost the same as a bike). After paying our ten euros, choosing our bikes and adjusting the seats we set off towards Dun Aonghasa by way of the middle road. We soon realized just how out of shape we really were (well, at least me…guess all that walking I have been doing hasn’t really been that much) as we attempted to make it up the first hill that we came across. In fact, it took us quite a
Me at the cliffs edge
while (way longer than it should have) to make it to Dun Aonghasa. However, this was due to a combination of things including more hills (I’m not going to lie, I had to walk a couple of them), baby animals, various picture stops, a detour to Dun Arann and a lighthouse, and a beach that looked like it belonged somewhere in the Caribbean rather than Ireland.
Our first major stop, which was Dun Arann, was amazing. It is located on the highest point of the island and since it was such a beautiful day, the view was spectacular. We could see the Maamturks and even the fires in Connemara, not to mention a great deal of the island itself. We walked around there for a while (I found a cache), and then set off towards Dun Aonghasa. After leaving our bikes out in the ‘bike park’ at the front of the building we stocked up on water from the bathroom sink, paid our Euro and ten cents, and began our walk up the slightly steep and rocky but fairly short path to the top. Dun Aonghasa is a semi circular stone fort that was built by the Celts around 2000
B. C. It is also one of those images that you always see when looking at pictures or postcards of Ireland. It was beyond words. You can hear the crashing of the waves on the base of the cliff 87m below and see cliff upon amazing cliff to each side of you. Of course I laid down and leaned over, looking at the water below (everyone does, plus, it adds that little something extra to the whole experience). It was really awesome, and may even have rivaled the Cliffs of Mohr in my book. When we were done taking as many pictures as we could take, we headed back to town. We stopped off at the beach for a little bit, and then took the ocean road back. It was just so beautiful. This road was ten times better than the one that we had taken to get there (there were less hills, and therefore it was easier, and the view was gorgeous). Once again we stopped to watch the cute baby animals, and to watch the seals heads bob up and down in the water. When we finally made it back to town, we had dinner, walked a little
View from Dun Arann
ways to another beach where we just sat for a while discussing the surprising lack of sheep on the island (where the wool for these famous Aran sweaters comes from I couldn’t tell you—we literally saw no sheep) until the sun went down, walked back to our hostel and went to bed.
In the morning, after eating our free hostel breakfast, we rode our bikes a little ways down and sat on another beach until the ferries came. We met three more friends who had come for just the day, which was just as perfect as yesterday. After one of them got a bike (the other two decided to take the tour bus) we rode back down the ocean road, this time we stopped to watch the seals which were lying out in the sun on the rocks. We set off again, and while Jenny went to see Dun Aonghasa we set off in search of more views of the cliffs (which we were unable to find), and then rode back to meet Jenny. We stopped at the beach and had some lunch (I ate my day old peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I had brought with me from
Galway), then made our way back along the ocean road towards Dun Dubhchathair which had been recommended by a friend. We rode our bikes along this very rocky path for as long as we could, and then walked the rest of the way. Dun Dubhchathair (what the map also called the block fort, but what we thought was a typo considering the fact that Dubh in Irish means black---so we called it the black fort instead) is another fort on pretty much the opposite side of the island from Dun Aonghasa. As we walked up the path we got a little confused at first because we could see some sort of stone building that we were quite obviously not walking towards (we thought we were on the wrong path), but kept on going. We made it to the top, over to our left, a fair distance away, was what we took to be the Black fort. So, we walked, over stone walls, and along the stone strewn ground until we reached it. Like Dun Aonghasa, it was at the edge of a cliff and likewise came with an amazing view. Unfortunately we didn’t have much time to spend there before
we had to head back to town to turn in our bikes (pay ten more euros), and catch the five o’clock ferry (the last ferry of the day) back. It was definitely worth seeing, and a lot less touristy (we were the only ones there). I was really glad that we had decided to stay the night, because we were able to see a lot more than those who just came for a day got to see, plus it was nice to not feel rushed. The island was so pretty, and the weather was perfect (I think the weather plays a huge part in how much you enjoy the Island), and I can’t wait to go back again.
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